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JULY 2011 



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10 



A Day On the Bay 

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I iidei' the \relie,s 

l)V Marie Majarox 

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Trashing Wildlife 

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O^ Virginia's FamiK -liieiidlx I'isheries 

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30 AFIELD AND AFLOAT 

31 Hope Llie.s Oil • 32 IMiolo Lip.s • 33 On llie Walcr • 34 Diiiiii- In 

ABOUT THE COVHR: i.illlc W ic.ini,,, IiiI<L \,.rlhcin \c(k;()il ..ncjiinas ' Dan Barl-es 



BOB DUNCAN 
Executive Director 










I guess I am an incurable hunter-gatherer! I do not 
remember «o? having a serious vegetable garden in 
my adult life and, as many of you know, I have been a 
lifelong hunter and angler. We hear much today 
about the locavore movement and one of the many 
side benefits to gardening, of course, is the knowledge 
that you are reducing your carbon footprint by eating 
produce that requires no transportation! Hunters and 
anglers and gardeners and beekeepers have long rec- 
ognized the value of eating locally grown foods — 
often, right from their own backyards and woods. 
Paying homage to this tradition, the Virginia Mu- 
seum of Natural History recently opened a new exhibit called 
"Living Off the Land," which will run until January 14. Mu- 
seum director Joe Keiper and his talented staff worked closely 
with our Department, the state chapter of the National Wild 
Turkey Federation, Orvis, and Rotary International to spon- 
sor this impressive collection which focuses on the many 
ways that hiunans depend on nature for a wealth of resources 
that bolster our economy, provide recreational outlets, and 
fulfill our need for beauty. I certainly recommend this exhibit 
and the many other outreach programs of the museum to 
you and your family. 

At another state institution, we are reminded that 
Blandy Experimental Farm and State Arboretum conducts 
cutting-edge botanical research at their facility in the Shenan- 
doah Valley. Writer Marie Majarov shares in her feature on 
page 1 8 the history behind this property gifted to UVA that 
has evolved into both an outdoor education classroom for 
children, as well as a laboratory for ecological investigation. 

So grab the kids or some friends and venture out to these 
remarkable places across Virginia that help all of us reconnect 
with the natural gifts that sustain us. You might make such an 
outing a reward for the tilling and the weeding and the water- 
ing of the garden — but I suspect the promise of fresh fruits 
and vegetables glistening on the kitchen counter may be re- 
ward enoush. 



MISSION STATEMENT 

To manage Virginia's wildlife and inland fish to riKiiiuain optimum population.s of all species to serve the needs of chc Commonwealth; To 
provide opportunity for all lo enjoy wildlife, inland fish, boating and related outdoor recreation and to work diligently to safeguard the rights 
of the people to hunt, fish and harvest game as provided for in the Constitution of Virginia; To promote safety for persons and property in 
connection with boating, hunting and fishing; To provide educational outreach programs and materials that foster an awareness of and appre- 
ciation for Virginias fish and wildlife resources, their habitats, and hunting, fishing, and boating opportunities. 

Dedicated to the Conservation of Virginias Wildlife and Natural Resources 



VOLllMH 72 



NUMBER 7 



COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA 
Bob McDonnell, Governor 

HUNTING & FISHING 
LICENSE FEES 

Subsidized this publication 

SECRETARY OF NATURAL RESOURCES 
Douglas W. Domenech 

DEPARTMENT OF GAME AND 

INLAND FISHERIES 

Bob Duncan 

Executive Director 



I 



MEMBERS OF THE BOARD 

Ward Burton, Halifax 
Lisa Caruso, Church Road 
J. Brent Clarke, III, Fairfax 
Curtis D. Colgate, Virginia Beach 
James W. Hazel, Oakton 
Randy J. Kozuch, Alexandria 
John W. Montgomery, Jr., Sandston 
Mary Louisa Pollard, Irvington 
F. Scott Reed, Jr., Manakin-Sabot 
Leon O. Turner, Fincastle 
Charles S. Yates, Cleveland 



MAG.AZINE STAFF 

Sally Mills, Editor 

Lee Walker, Ron Messina, Julia Dixon, 

Contributing Editors 
Emily Pels, Art Director 
Carol Kushlak, Production Manager 
Tom Guess, Staff Contributor 



Printing by Progress Printing, Lynchburg, VA. 



\ 



Virginia Wildlife (ISSN 0042 6792) is published monthly 
by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. 
Send all subscription orders and address changes to Virginia 
Wildlife, P. O. Box 830, Boone, Iowa 50036. Address ail 
other communications concerning this publication to Vir- 
ginia Wildlife, P. O. Box 1 11 04. 4010 West Broad Street, 
Richmond, Virginia 23230-1104. Subscription rates arci 
$12.95 for one year, $23.95 for rwo years; $4.00 per eachl 
back issue, subject to availabilir)'. Out-of-country rate is 
$24.95 for one year and must be paid in U.S. fiinds. No re- 
funds for amounts le.ss than $5.00. To subscribe, call toll-' 
free (800) 710-9369. POSTMASTER: Please .send all| 
address changes to Virginia Wildlife, RO. Box 830, Boone 
Iowa 50036. Postage for periodicals paid at Richmond, Vir- 
ginia and additional entr\- offices. 

Copyright 201 1 by the Virginia Department of CJame and | 
Inland Fisheries. All rights reserved. 

The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries shall afrord||fl| 
to all petsons an equal access to Depattment programs and' ^ 
facilities without regard to race, color, religion, national ori' 
gin, disability, .sex, or age. If you believe that you have been 
discriminated .igainst in any program, activity or facility,; 
please write to; Virginia Department of Game and Inland 
Fisheries, ATTN; Compliance Officer, (4010 West Broadj 
Street.) P. O. Box 11 104, Richmond, Virginia 23230-1 104.; 

Tliis publication is intended fot general informational pur- 
poses only and every effort has been made to ensure its ac- 
curacy. The information contained herein docs not .serve a.' 
a legal representation offish and wildlife laws or regulations! 
Tfie Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries doe." 
not .issumc tcsponsibility tor any change in dates, regiila ) 
tions, or information that may occur ahet publication 



' 



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FSC 



MIX 

Paper from 
responsible sources 

FSC* C005991 





A well thrown cast net from the dock will 
often land some nice-sized flounder baits. 



Some time on the open water and a little fishing 
action can do the soul plenty of good. 

story by Tee Cbrkson 
photos by Dwight Dyke 



Ti JM ayhem juxtaposed against 
J\/l tranquility; that is heading 
^^r Y \^ east on 64 from Richmond 
toward the C^hesapeake Bay. Williamsburg. 
Newport News. Planes. Traffic. Tourists. 
Amusement parks. Yet, just a couple of min- 
utes down the road toward Potjuoson, the salt 
from the bay rides the breeze and the smell of 
the marsh at low tide spe;iks of times when 
these things were at the forefront of most 
men's minds. When knowing the tides, the 
water, the fish, meant the difference between 
eating and going hungry. 



It's rare these days that I find myself 
doing something completely new when it 
comes to fishing, very rare reiilly, and even 
more so in Virginia. Somehow though, I had 
managed to miss out on the flounder fishing 
over the years. I tried a few times. I have a 
vague memory of a "doormat " my father 
pulled in when I was a boy. There was a failed 
trip to " Ihe Cell " once a few years back due to 
a storm, and that is really about it other than a 
few throwback incidentals here and there 
when fishing for other species. Today I had 
plans to change my luck. It was a typical hot 



VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HuntFishVA.com 




The author (R) and Capt. Neil Renouf show a couple of flounder, one caught using 
live spot and the other, a jig tipped with an artificial Gulp minnow. 



Wednesday afternoon in August. I was going 
fishing with Captain Neil Renouf of Old Do- 
minion Outdoors for flounder, spadefish, 
and cobia. 

The good news was Neil and his buddy. 
Captain Tony Horsely, who was coming 
along with us, had been catching regular lim- 
its of nice-sized flounder, plenty of spaciefish, 
and quite a few cobia in recent weeks. The bad 
news was the wind. Overnight, the wind had 
kicked up to 15 miles an hour out of the 
Northeast, and we were unsure if we would be 
able to get out. Neil was booked the rest of the 
week and my schedule didn't look good for 
postponing. We were intent on making it 
happen. 

I had invited an old friend from college, 
Will Cranz, to join us. Will is another out- 
door veteran, having guided trout and salmon 
in the Alaskan backcountry for the better part 



of the last decade. Now he manages a farm just 
outside of Louisburg, North Carolina, spends 
more time in the deer stand than your average 
five hunters, and runs a kids fishing camp 
called North Carolina Fishing Adventures. 
Will, like me, had never caught any significant 
flounder in his home state of North Carolina 
or in Virginia. 

We boarded Neil's boat a little over an 
hour after leaving Richmond. It was a short 
run to Neil's fish trap, where we loaded the live 
well with small spot before making a beeline 
for the Back River artificial reef Normally I 
wouldn't disclose a specific spot in print, but it 
is no secret that artificial reefs like this one 
hold some of the largest flounder around. The 
trick is knowing exactly where to drop your 
baits. We had two things going for us. One, 
the wind had finally died down, and two, Neil 
knows exactly where to drop the baits. 




Capt. Tony Horsely bounces a jig off 
some rocks, looking for a flounder bite. 



JULY 2011 ♦ 




Capt. Tony Horsely is hooked up to a giant ray he caught while jigging for flounder near the 
Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. 



Neil came ro guiding fishermen for a liv- 
ing in a round-about way like almost all fish- 
ing guides I have ever met. Born in the 
Richmond area, Neil spent a significant por- 
tion of his childhood overseas, going to 
school in England, before returning to the 
states and gaining much of his fishing knowl- 
edge from his grandfather. He became fasci- 
nated with Lake Moomaw through articles 
he read in magazines in the '90s, but found 
much of the information and techniques he 
read about to be ineffective. Frustrated by a 
lack of success on the lake, he invented his 
own tactics and soon was having great luck. A 
building contractor by trade at the time, he 
made severd videos on fishing Moomaw and 
the James River just for the Riii ol it. Soon he 
was getting calls asking if he could make 
guided trips. The aills kept coming, and he 
decided to give it a shot. In 1998 he started 
Old Dominion Outdoors, guiding Lake 
Moomaw, the James River for catfish, and 
the (.hesapeake Bay. Now he focuses his ef- 
forts on fishing the lower James for catfish 



and the Chesapeake Bay for flounder, spade- 
fish, and cobia. 

Will and I dangled our live spot over the 
side of the boat, waiting for Neil's direction. 
"You'll feel the rocks on the bottom," he said. 
"The fish will be right on the edge of those 
rock piles. It feels sort of like hooking a wet 
paper bag when they hit. " One last look at the 
electronics and Neil shouted, "Okay, drop 
em." 

We made several passes over that first 
spot, drifting with the current and the wind, 
slowly raising our rods up and down so as not 
to get hung up on the rocks. Nothing. We 
pulled up and moved a hundred yards or so to 
another pile of rocks and started another 
short drift. I could feel my weight bouncing 
in the rocks, and then the tip pulled down. It 
wasn't a sharp whack that would signify a bite 
with many species, but felt more like, well, a 
wet paper bag. I pulled back and my rod dou- 
bled over. I had one. In a minute or two Neil 
hoisted my 6-pound flounder over the side 
and into the net. People fish for diflerent 




nin'.uyj 



Will Cranz (L) and the author with a couple 
of spadefish caught near the bridge tunnel. 



8 



VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HuntFlshiVA.com 



species for all sorts of reasons: tarpon because 
of their jumps and powerful runs, permit be- 
cause of their finicky nature and consequent 
challenge, and trout because they live in beau- 
tiful places. People fish for flounder because 
they taste pretty darn good. This guy looked 
especially tasty coming into the boat. 

While I was fighting the fish, the boat 
had drifted off the rock pile. We turned 
around and made another pass, and ;ilmost 
before I could get a new spot on my hook and 
drop my line, Neil was into a nice flounder on 
a jig tipped with a Gulp minnow. Another 
pass yielded a nice keeper for Will. Three pass- 
es, three nice flounder. There is an old saying, 
"never leave fish to find fish." But we wanted 
to catch some other species and the wind had 
shortened our day. We reeled in and headed 
toward the Bay Bridge-Tunnel in search of 
cobia and spadefish. 

While the cobia weren't cooperating this 
day, the spadefish were plentiful and more 
than happy to take the clam on our hooks. 
Will and I caught a handful each in an hour as 
they swarmed around the pilings at the 
bridge. With the tide starting to slacken and 
the bite turning off, it was time to pull them in 
and head for home. Neil powered the throttle 
down, and his boat jumped up on plane. 

I enjoy a bit of a boat ride after a day of 
fishing or hunting waterfowl where there is 
nothing to do but reflect and appreciate the 
time. The plans and anticipation from before 
the trip are gone. Things have worked out or 
they haven't. For the most part the thinking is 
done, and it is easier to melt into the moment. 
The monkey was off my back. I had caught a 
nice flounder, as had Will. I had finally gotten 
the opportunity to get out on the water with 
Neil and Tony, something we had been trying 
to do for a while. We had lucked out with the 
wind and the weather. Ironically, in just an 
hour we would have cleaned the fish and the 
four of us would be eating in a Mexican 
restaurant in Newport News, back amidst the 
mayhem. ?f 

Tee Clarkson is an English teacher at Deep Run 
High School in Henrico Co. and runs Virginia 
Fishing Adventures, a fishing camp for kids: 
tsclarkson@virginiafishingadventures.com 



For information about fishing with Neil or 
Tony, goto http://www.olddominion 
outdoors.com or call 804-539-8023. 




Will Cranz shows off a nice spadefish caught next to the pilings on the bridge, 
and netted below. 




JULY 2011 ♦ 





Graduate students 

are the unsung heroes 

of wildlife research. 

story and photos 
by David Hart 



Dana Morin bends down on the 
edge of a rock)' trail, pulls on a 
pair ot leather gloves, and picks 
up a twisted black cylinder about tour inches 

ong. It's animal scat, either a fox, bobcat, or 
possibly a coyote, says Morin. To be sure, she 
crumbles the dropping in her glove and 
brings it closer to her face, examining the 
shape, the composition, even the odor. 

"Bobcat," she declares, explaining that 
bobcat scat has a unique smell and that the lo- 
cation — off to the side of the trail and partial- 

y covered with leaves — is also a good 
indication of what left the cdling card. 

Gross? Maybe. But for a graduate stu- 
dent conducting research, it's just part of the 
job. Morin, a Virginia Tech Ph.D. candidate, 
and fellow Tech grad student David Montage 
arc in the early stages of a three-year study 
that will examine coyotes and their diet on 
the George Washington and Jefferson Na- 
tion;il Forest. She and Montage want to know 

list how many coyotes are in the study areas 
of Rockingham and Bath counties and if they 
are in any way to blame for the decline in deer 
numbers in the region. For much of the study 
period, she will be setting and checking traps, 
scouring the woods for more coyote scat, and 
following the movements of radio-collared 
coyotes across the national forest. Ihey and a 
handful of undergraduate assistants will be 

iving, eating, breathing, and thinking coy- 
otes for the next three years. 

"I love it. I can't imagine doing anything 
else, " she says. 



u 



^ 



Cheap But Vital Labor 

It's that passion that makes graduate students 
such an invaluable part offish and wildlife re- 
search, says Cale Godfrey, who serves as a re- 
gional assistant director for the bureau of 
wildlife resources with the Department 
(DGIF). In fact, without their dedication, our 
knowledge of fish and wildlife would be just a 
fraction of what it currently is and our game 
regulations would likely be much different. 
Grad students, for example, played a major 
role in the Southern Appalachian Coopera- 
tive Grouse Research Project. It helped shape 
harvest and management recommendations 
for ruffed grouse in Virginia. A recent study 
conducted by a Tech student helped DGIF 
fisheries biologists learn more about the pop- 
ulation dynamics of non-native snakeheads in 
the tidal Potomac River, and grad students ex- 
amined striped bass mortality in Smith 
Mountain Lake. As a result of their findings, 
Department biologists altered stocking efforts 
to increase fingerling survival, creating a better 
fishery. Godfrey participated in the Coopera- 
tive Allegheny Bear Study in the early 1990s. 
His and other research helped shape the state's 
current bear management plan. 

"Graduate students are willing to work 
long hours under some pretty rough condi- 
tions and for not much pay," says Godfrey. 
"They are extremely dedicated and they have 
an active and important role in shaping the 
way we manage our game and nongame fish 
and wildlife. " 

That low pay is one reason they are such an 
invaluable tool in our ongoing quest for knowl- 
edge of the namral world. Godfrey says it would 
be virmally impossible for Deparmient staff bi- 
ologists to conduct similar extensive research. 
Although some Department biologists do 
participate in studies, students tend to do 
much of the field work. 



Left, examining animal scat is just part of tlie 
job for Ph.D. candidate Dana Morin. 
Right, grad student Jeff Dragon gladly walks 
through streams and muck in order to learn 
more about wood turtles. 





Want To Be A Biologist? 

If the life of a graduate student sounds like 
the perfect way to spend a few years, con- 
sider the advice of Virginia Tech fisheries 
professor Dr. Brian Murphy. He's been 
teaching at the university for 15 years and 
has seen thousands of students come 
through the wildlife and fisheries pro- 
gram. Some make it; most don't. 

"The ones who succeed know what 
they want to do when they get here and 
they are determined to reach their goal," 
says Murphy. 

It takes more than determination. 
Murphy says the best college students 
excel in math and biology (both vital sub- 
jects in the wildlife profession) in high 
school and rank high in their class. 

"You'll have to do well in statistics and 
calculus in college, as well. There's no way 
around those courses," he adds. 

Once you earn an undergraduate de- 
gree, you'll need at least a Master's to get 
a job as a biologist. The market is so com- 
petitive these days, an undergraduate de- 
gree likely won't take you very far in the 
wildlife business. However, Murphy says 
the job market is pretty good, thanks in 
part to the large number of biologists who 
are planning to retire over the next 
decade. 



Dana Morin (R) is working a three-year coyote study in western Virginia. She will be 
assisted by Virginia Tech undergrads, including Josh Kinkead and Sarah Webber 



"We just couldn't afford to put a couple of 
staff biologists on a research project for two 
or three years at a time and still manage to do 
the jobs they are hired to do. Graduate stu- 
dents are cheap, but they are enthusiastic and 
they do good work," he says. 

When he was a grad student at Tech, 
Godfrey got somewhere in the neighbor- 
hood of $1,100 a month during the three- 
year project. These days, the average amount 
is a little more, but it's still barely enough to 
cover basic living expenses. The money 
comes from various state, federal, or non- 
profit entities that want answers about a par- 
ticular species. 

hi Jeff Dragon's case, the money is com- 
ing from a State Wildlife Grant from the 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to the Depart- 
ment. His research project will shed more 
light on threatened wood turtles, a reclusive 



reptile that is facing some tough times. Drag- 
on is examining the population status, breed- 
ing ecology, and habitat use in order to better 
understand ways to help the turtles sur\'ive. 
Like most grad students, he's doing his job on 
a shoestring budget. 

"I eat lots of tuna fish and PB&J sand- 
wiches, but I love it," admits Dragon. 

He met Longwood University biology 
assistant professor Dr. Thomas Akre, a 
renowned turtle expert, who is working with 
the Department on this research in partner- 
ship with the Smithsonian Biology Conser- 
vation Institute. 

"As soon as I heard about it, I knew I had 
to be a part of it," says Dragon. 

Origindly from rural New Jersey, he re- 
members moving box turtles out of the road 
and catching reptiles in the woods around his 
home as a boy. 



"/ was constantly aware that people were counting onus and what it would 
have meant if we didn't accomplish our goal But research sometimes leads you 
in a direction you didn't anticipate. I learned that, even then, there is still much 
value in it. -Cale Godfrey 



12 



1 



"That's all I would do. I'd spend the 
summer looking for turtles and other reptiles 
and amphibians," he recalls. 

It turned out to be vital training. Along 
with that hand-to-mouth existence, grad 
students often work long hours in the field 
for days on end. Morin spent the entire 
month of June working 12- to 1 5-hour days 
without a break. Later in the summer. Drag- 
on expects to camp in the woods so he can be 
on site as the turtle eggs hatch at night or in 
the early morning. Morin also plans to spend 
much of her field time living Uke a gypsy in a 
tent somewhere on the national forest. It's 
just part of the life, a life that also includes an- 
imal bites, thunderstorms, mud, blood and 
sweat, swarms of biting insects, and the con- 
stant pressure of looming deadlines. Dragon 
can't count how many times he's been stung 
by wasps and other insects, and he developed 
a case of trenchfoot after spending day after 
day in wet boots. Despite the physical hard- 
ships, Godfrey says nothing compared to the 
constant mental pressure hanging over his 
head. 

"There was a lot riding on the work we 
were doing and, as a student, I fek it would 
have been a very big deal if we messed up, " he 
says. "I was constantly aware that people 
were counting on us and what it would have 
meant if we didn't accomplish our goal. But 
research sometimes leads you in a direction 
you didn't anticipate. I learned that, even 
then, there is still much value in it. " 

While the grueling field work and the 
physical hardships may actually sound ap- 
pealing to some, the life of a grad student isn't 
all spent in the woods. The data gathered has 
to be entered into a computer and it has to be 
analyzed. After all, the underlying motive of 
their research is to unlock mysteries of the 
natural world and then present those find- 
ings to the science community and the gen- 
eral public. Godfrey spent a full six months 
plugging data into programs, determining 
what it all meant, and then writing it into a 
report. Then they face the scrutiny of their 
academic advisor, usually a professor who 
serves as both mentor and boss. 

In some ways, says Morin, the hard- 
ships grad students endure as they conduct 
valuable research are a test to see if they have 
what it takes to cut it as a fiill-time researcher, 
professor, or biologist. Virginia Tech fisheries 
professor Dr. Brian Murphy agrees to some 
extent, but he says most students who apply 




Jeff Dragon holds the foundation of his 
research, a wood turtle. He will spend 
the next three years studying the life 
and habits of these threatened species. 
Below, fisheries biologists Vic DiCenzo 
and Dan Michaelson work trap nets on 
Sandy River Reservoir as part of their 
ongoing research. 



for a graduate position understand what they 
may be getting themselves into. Successfiil 
candidates tend to have some sort of related 
experience, whether volunteering at a nature 
center or even working as a garbage collector 
at a state park, anything even slightly related 
to the outdoors. But even with some experi- 
ence, not everyone is accepted. 

"It's pretty competitive. We get around 
200 applications each year for a limited num- 
ber of graduate positions. We accept around 
20 percent, depending on the fiinding avail- 
able, " says Murphy. 

Dragon and Morin agree that their job 
isn't all blood, sweat, and tears. Along with 
becoming a renowned expert in their chosen 
field of study, graduate students sometimes 
have the opportunity to participate in field 
work in some exotic locations. Morin spent a 
year in Belize working on a howler monkey 
sanctuary. But even if she never had that op- 
portunity, she would gladly repeat her years as 
a wildlife undergraduate and graduate stu- 
dent. 

"It's a lot of hard work and some of the 
work can be pretty tedious and repetitive, but 
the good definitely outweighs the bad," she 
says, even if the bad involves examining ani- 
mal scat. ?f 

David Hart is aJuU-time freelance writer and 
photographer from Rice. He is a regular contributor 
to numerous national huntingand fishing 
magazines. 




JULY 2011 ♦ 13 



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Rappahannock 

River Revival 



With the 

Embrey Dam gone, 

migrating fish are 

'spreading their fins' 

so to speak. 



by Beau Beasley 



a 



It's okay, Jeremiah — he wont 
hurt you," I reassured my son as 
I tried to steady my camera. Jer- 
emiah didn't seem convinced and eyed the 
fish, which had just recently been pulled from 
the river, with mingled curiosity and suspi- 
cion. At the ripe old age of five, my son was a 
typical boy, eager to see a fish up close — until 
one was actually up close. Now he stood on 
the banks of the Rappahannock River along- 
side Department fisheries biologist John 
Odenkirk, and he w;isn't so sure. 

"He won't bite you, " Odenkirk told my 
son as he carefully held the fish for Jeremiah to 
inspect. "He's more scared of you than you are 
of him. " Jeremiah reached out a tentative fin- 
ger and touched the fish — and confident that 
all was now well, my affectionate son actually 
kissed the fish goodbye for good measure. 
Odenkirk and I glanced quickly at one anoth- 
er and suppressed a laugh. My Riture angler 
watched as Odenkirk carefully released the 
fish back to his river. 

Before Jeremiah's close encounter oi the 
piscatorial kind, he and I had observed mem- 
bers of Odenkirk's team electroshocking fish: 
Fisheries managers use a battery to release a 
small electrical charge in the water that tem- 
porarily stuns the fish so that biologists may 
net them lor examination. The fish are ren- 
dered practically motionless lor a while, but 
this state is transitory and poses them no long- 
term threat. Fisheries managers often explore 



the same section of river year after year, which 
is sometimes several hundred feet long, at 
specific times when conditions allow. This 
acts more or less like a fish census; data gath- 
ered over several seasons can give Department 
personnel a sense ol the river's health and the 
health of its fish populations. 

The Rappahannock, which is Algon- 
quian Indian for "rapidly rising water," is a 
tidal river with regular ebbs and flows ol sev- 
eral feet each day toward its drainage in the 
Chesapeake Bay. The tidal flows and currents 
are strong here, and sharp drop-offs and deep 
holes are commonplace. Wading anglers 
oft:en find to their chagrin that rocks they 
walked over at low tide have disappeared alto- 
gether in a rising tide. (Ask me how I know 
this.) Regrettably, visitors drown in the Rapp 
nearly every season because recreational an- 
glers and swimmers simply don't appreciate 
the force of the river's current. Rapp visitors 
should use caution when fishing, swimming, 
or paddling this venerable waterway. 



A study in contrasts, the Rappahannock 
River begins in the Blue Ridge Mountains but 
is brackish at its mouth, which is nearly three 
and a halt miles wide. Though most famous 
for its smallmouth bass and shad, the river's 
best-known tributary is the Rapidan, a 
renowned trout fishery. The Rapp is over 1 80 
miles long and drains as much as six percent of 
the Old Dominion's land mass. It was a hub of 
early colonization, including the settlement 
n;mied Germana by its Swiss immigrants. 

Most students of Virginia history know 
that the Rappahannock served as a natural 
boundary between Union and Confederate 
armies during the Civil War, but many are un- 
aware that the Rapp was already a war veteran 
by the time of that conflict: She saw gunship 
engagements during the War of 1812, when 
hundreds of British Marines (with the aid ol 
small ships) captured lour American priva- 
teers, the Lynx, Racer, Do/phiii, and Arab. 
These privateers were employed more or less as 
free agents for what constituted the colonial 




Left, fisheries biologist John Odenkirk shares a teaching moment with up-and-coming 
angler Jeremiah. Removal of the Embrey Dam in 2004 has changed the character of the 
fish community, according to DGIF surveys. 



JULY 20n ♦ 15 





American eel 



Post-Embrey Fish Survey 

In June 2010, three locations were surveyed to see what ef- 
fect the removal of the dam might have had on local fish 
populations. The sites used to conduct the survey: just 
above Clore Brothers Outfitters in Fredericksburg, Kelly's 
Ford, and Ely's Ford. Results were promising and even Department staff were im- 
pressed. 

According to Odenkirk, "The fish community has changed dramatically since 
the dam was taken down." Channel catfish, blue catfish, gizzard shad, and long- 
nose gar didn't even exist above the dam prior to its removal. These four fish now 
make the most abundant top ten species list. Rounding out the top ten are red- 
breasted sunfish, American eel, satinfin shiner, smallmouth bass, bluegill, north- 
ern hogsucker, and common carp. 

Some might wonder why hickory and American shad, river herring, and 
stripers were not more prevalent, since experts believed that these species might 
benefit the most— especially because the dam's removal would add over 100 
river miles of spawning grounds. The answer lies in timing. Sampling was per- 
formed in June, when these migrating species would have long since returned to 
the ocean after spawning. 

Survey results are good news for anglers, especially those who target small- 
mouth bass. As a result of the increase in prey, the smallies are growing much 
faster than before the removal of the dam. For example, a five-year-old smallie av- 
eraged 13.1 inches before the Embrey Dam came down; today that same fish is, 
on average, 16.4 inches long! Simply put, predator fish like smallies have so much 
more to eat now that they're growing like crazy. 

Says Odenkirk, "I have to be honest and say that before the dam's removal, 

smallmouth fishing on this river was sort of marginal at best. The good news is 

that now the Rappahannock is poised to give her sister rivers— the 

James, Shenandoah, and New— a run for their 

money. The great news is that as time 

passes, the fishing here should only get 

better." 



Smallmouth bass 




Illustrations by 
Duane Raver/USFWS 



Navy; after capture, most were refitted for use in 
the British Navy or sold. 

Perhaps not all Virginians are thrilled to see 
smallmouth bass, catfish, and suckers upstream 
from where Interstate 95 crosses the river in 
Fredericksburg — but today it was hard to tell 
who was happier, Jeremiah or Odenkirk. 

"We've seen healthy populations of fish in 
this section of the river ever since the Embry 
Dam came down, " says Odenkirk, "and even I'm 
surprised to see how well the fish are doing. It's 
really a testament to how well fish can recover if 
we manage them correctly." Odenkirk is study- 
ing how the Rappahannock's fish have fared 
since the removal of the Embrey Dam in 2004. 
So far he is encouraged by what he sees, though 
he cautions that it will be many years before the 
river completely recovers. "We've seen not only 
the smallmouth bass poptilation increase that we 
had hoped for, but increases across the board for 
many species including stripers and shad." 

Odenkirk notes that he's seen a 25 percent 
increase in size for smallmouth bass in the four- 
year-old age class. Some species like shad have 
even been captured 45 miles or more upstream 
from the Embrey Dam, which was constructed 
in the mid- 1800s. Why is this significant? Be- 
cause shad and striper migrations have been ef- 
fectively stranded at the Embrey Dam, since fish 
ladders did not exist at that time and no one con- 
sidered the fish at the time of its construction. 
The restoration of historic spawning grounds 
should mean even healthier fish populations in 
the fiiture, though this is by no means certain 
since the migratory fish have been effectively cut 
off from these spawning grounds for nearly a 
century and a h;ilf 

The picture is not entirely rosy, however: 
"We see some significant water quality issues," 
says Odenkirk, "and low water flow is a persist- 
ent problem." The river still gets some high flow 
rates in the spring and winter months, but lower 
water levels plague the river much of the year, 
which could become more serious as the de- 
mands of agriculture and development continue 
to increase. 

Even the casual observer will note ever-bur- 
geoning, historic Fredericksburg. To its credit 
the cit)' recently purchased hundreds of acres of 
land near the riverfront for preservation and to 
ensure that its citizens and tourists would have 
access to the river. Tliis also effectively ended 
overdevelopment on the banks of the Rapp near 
Old Town Fredericksburg. Anglers have excel- 
lent river access at Old Mill Park and River Road. 

Visitors can fish the Rapp;ihannock nearly 
year round. Hickor)' shad, which fight like crazy 



16 



Northern hogsucker 




and entertain both fly and spin anglers alike, 
enter the river by the tens of thousands from 
late March until early to mid-May every year 
as they migrate from the Chesapeake Bay. 
American shad are also present but in much 
smaller numbers. In fact, biologists like 
Odenkirk are working to bring American shad 
back to their historic numbers. 

Behind the shad come the migrating 
stripers, which feast on the shad as they move 
upriver and which are crucial to the health of 
the Chesapeake Bay. Along with these saltwa- 
ter fish are American eels, which, believe it or 
not, migrate as far upriver as the Shenandoah 
National Park trout streams. 



By mid- to late May and through 
late October, the Rapp's famed smallies 
take center stage. It is true, however, 
that in the eyes of some anglers, these 
kings of the river are occasionally up- 
staged by beefy catfish and hard-fighting 
bluegills. 

Not everyone enjoys tackling a 20-inch 
smallmouth with a topwater lure. Some 
plumb the depths of the river with rattle-traps 
or even worms looking for gar, while others 
try to land one of the behemoth carp with 
dough balls. 

Virginia's historic Rappahannock River 
is poised for a comeback that will ensure that 
a new generation of anglers, like my son, en- 
joys its riches. It is easily accessible from loca- 
tions throughout the state (free maps of most 
of the states rivers are available from the De- 
partment) and supports a wide variety offish. 



Though they're heavily outnumbered by 
spin fishermen, and even by swimmers and 
canoe enthusiasts, fly anglers continue to 
flock to the Rapp in the early spring for its 
incomparable shad runs and in the summer 
for its lunker smallies. 

John Odenkirk ought not to have all 
the fijn: Make time in your schedule this 
season for a little Rappahannock River "re- 
search." Wade carefully, and always wear a 
flotation device if you're boating or moving 
near swift current. Promptly release any fish 
that you don't intend to keep. Kissing them 
is optional. ^ 



Beau Beasley's newly released second book, Fly Fish- 
ing the Mid-Atlantic: A No Notiseme Guide to 
Top Waters, may be purclnised from his website 
(u mm '. hcaubcasley. com) or from your local fly shop 
or bookstore. 



JULY 201 1 



17 



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1 



Research and 

education shine 

at the 

State Arboretum 

at Blandy 

Experimental 

Farm. 

story and photos 
by Marie Mojorov 

i 

/■ Virginia treasure is quietly tucked into 

j-% the northern corner of the Shenan- 

A. M. doali Valley: 700 serene acres of wood- 

lois, succcssional fields, pastures, ephemeral 

pools, wetlands, and broad IMtie Ridge 



mountain vistas. Here, from under the arches 
of the "Quarters," a circa 1830s brick build- 
ing believed to have once housed slaves, the 
Universit}' of Virginia (UVA) owns and oper- 
ates a cutting-edge environmental science re- 
search station that includes extensive public 
education and Virginia's State Arboretiun. 

Originally part of theTuleyries, the ante- 
bellum summer home of the Blandy Family, 
the property was bequeathed to UVA in 1 926 
upon the death of stockbroker Graham F. 
Blandy. An enthusiast of the Virginia coun- 
tryside, Blandy wanted to increase knowledge 
related to farming and encourage young men 
in agricultural activities. This generous gift 
came with the stipulation that it be named 
"Blandy Experimental Farm." loday it is af- 
fectionately known as "Blandy." 

The Quarters, cited on both state and 
national historic registers and long the hub of 
activity, was enlarged in 1 940 in keeping with 



its original architecture and UVA style to pro- 
vide needed offices, a science lab, library, 
kitchen, and student housing — now includ- 
ing women as well as men. Currently, a new 
"green science lab is in the planning phase. 

Blandy s mission has broadened and coa- 
lesced throughout the almost 85 years of its 
existence. Director & Research Associate Pro- 
fessor Dr. David Carr states it succinctly: 
"Our mission is to increase understanding of 
the natiird world throtigh research and edu- 
cation." 

UVA is proud to have other universities 
from both within and outside Virginia join in 
implementing their mission and to partner 
with programs such as the Virginia Native 
Plant Society, American Boxwood Socict)', 
Virginia Master Naturalists, and Northern 
Shenandoah Valley Audubon Society (NSV 
Audubon), as well as the Department 
(DCilF). 



18 



VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HuntFishiVA.com 




Right, the Quarters, once believed to have 
housed slaves, becomes a hub of activity 
and discussion during summer research 
programs. 



"Environmental Research," continues 
Dr. Carr, "has always been the cornerstone oi 
Blandy's development" and continues to 
shape its growth. Talented directors through 
the years and the research projects conducted 
in their tenure have all made significant con- 
tributions to the station's character but it was 
the first director, in Carr's opinion, who was 
the visionary most responsible for what 
Blandy is today. 

Dr. Orland E.White 

In 1927, Dr. Orland E. NXOiite (1885-1972), 
a gregarious geneticist, botanist, horticultur- 
ist, artist, and extraordinarily passionate 
teacher, was hired to establish Blandy Experi- 
mental Farm. Under the arches where slaves 



once slept this "larger than lite" personality 
enjoyed challenging students to debate 
emerging issues in the young science oi ge- 
netics. 

Dr. White's research interest was the 
systematic study of trees; his goal, to deter- 
mine the best species for potential commer- 
cial use. To this end he began building grand 
collections of native trees and plants and 
their exotic relatives, making carefiil hand- 
written records still cherished today. Formal 
accession books for the collections were 
started in 1938. 

Families of oaks, hollies, maples, and 
more were planted taxonomically in beauti- 
folly laid out groupings to compare chromo- 
somes and trace the relationships between 




Dr. Orland E. White was the charismatic, 
very influential first director at Blandy. 



JULY 2011 ♦ 19 




plantings. Ginkgo trees, which at that time 
were facing extinction. Dr. White planted in 
neat rows. Legend has it that he brought seeds 
from the UVA groimds in Charlottesville to 
look at the sex ratio of trees they would pro- 
duce. Results were close to 50/50 male to fe- 
male, but the strongest outcome was the 
largest ginkgo grove (325 trees) in North 
America that each fall produces a show of daz- 
zling gold. 

Certainly he was research driven, but 
clearly Dr. White's artistic eye was also at work 
in creating the groundwork for the 172-acre 
arboretum that today is home to more than 
8,000 trees and woody shrubs representing 
over 50 plant families imd 1 ,000 species and 
varieties, including az;ileas, beeches, catalpas. 
Cedars of Lebanon, crabapples, hollies, mag- 
nolias, maples, birches, viburnum — to name 
only a very few! 

Celebrated highlights include nearly 
one-third of the worlds pine species, a Vir- 
ginia Native Plant Trail, the Boxwood Memo- 
rial Garden, a fragrant herb garden, and of 
course the spectacular ginkgo grove. Wending 
its way around this glorious arboretum is a pic- 
turesque portion of DGIF's Birding and 
Wildlife Trail, which follows the Wilkins Lane 
Loop showcasing high diversities of birds, but- 
terflies, dragonflies, and plant lite. 

In 1955 UVA honored Dr. Whites 28 
years of dedication by naming his creation the 
"Orland E. White Arboretum" and opening 
its beauty to the public free of charge from 
dawn to dusk, 365 days a year. Virginias Gen- 
eral Assembly designated it our official State 
Arboretum in 1986, making 20 11 its 25th an- 
niversary! 

Research Associate Professor Dr. T'ai 
Roulston now serves as curator for this out- 
door, living museum which is an essential tool 
in implementing Blandy's mission. 

Research 

Following Dr. White's epic work, the science 
of biology/genetics at UVA evolved to the mo- 
lecular study of DNA, ;iJid Blandy's tapestry of 
habitats became the very appropriate purview 
of the Environmental Sciences division. The 
property provides almost endless possibilities 
for ecologicd investigation. Field tracts can be 
laid out, plowed/burnt, and followed to better 
understand the stages of succession. Solitary 
bees can be observed in cleverly designed stud- 
ies; investigations of inv;isives are easily facili- 
tated; and so much more. 



Peak research activity comes each sum- 
mer when 20—25 undergraduates, graduates, 
and post-doctoral fellows take up residence at 
the Quarters. Stimulating conversations 
under the old brick arches continue on new 
topics: plant-herbivore interactions, insect 
population dynamics, the eflFects ol plant in- 
breeding and genetic variation, plant succes- 
sion, pollination, native bee biology, and 
habitat fragmentation. 



Partners also play an active role in ongo- 
ing research efforts. DGIF collaborates in a 
project to encourage meadow habitat for the 
Northern bobwhite, also important to nu- 
merous other species including butterflies, 
field mice, black rat snakes, and various spar- 
rows. Progress for bobwhites, who need the 
open spaces between the clumping growths 
of warm-season grasses lor nest building, is 
promising in Blandys meadows. Although 




Dr. Dave Carr, an expert birder, leads a winter birding walk through bobwhite habitat, 
a collaborative project with DGIF. 



seen fairly frequently, these quail chose not to 
peek their heads out for counting during the 
station's 2010 Audubon Christmas Bird 
Count! 

Additionally, 500-tree test plots were 
planted as part of The American Chestnut 
Foundation's long-term breeding program and 
network ol efforts along the East Coast to in- 
troduce blight resistance into the American 
Chestnut so that it can thrive in the face of the 
chestnut blight, Cryphonectria parasitica. And 
the NSV Audubon maintains an ongoing 
110-nestbox bluebird trail staffed totally by 
volimteers, which provides significant data to 
the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, DGIF, Vir- 
ginia Bluebird Society, and Smithsonian Insti- 
tute. 

Associate Director Dr. Kyle Haynes, 
whose personal specialty is forest-defoliating 
insects, oversees research programs. Just take a 
peek at the publication list on Blandys website 
to see the impressive research results produced! 

Outreach & Education 

The ability to increase ecological awareness for 
citizens, policymakers, and society as a 
whole — a critical role of environmental sci- 
ence — is a skill at which Blandy shines. "Our 
inter-relationship of research and education 
makes us a unique resource for Virginia, " states 
director Carr. Thanks to Dr. Steve Carroll who 
directs public programs and Dr. Candace Lut- 




The ginkgo trees planted by Dr. White glow a dazzling gold each fa 



Blandy faculty excel in their commitment 
to increasing ecological awareness. 



JULY 2011 ♦ 21 



zow-Felling who directs education, there is 
something to learn and enjoy for everyone: 
young people, teachers, wildlife managers, 
gardeners, and citizens who want to make a 
difference. 

A renovated apple-packing shed, now 
the charming Parkfield Learning Center 
(PLC), is crammed full with wonderRil na- 
ture displays made possible through DGIF 
Scientific Collection/Salvage Permits that 
allow for some live animals (a black rat snake, 
for example) and various animals found dead 



in the wild to be preserved for educational 
purposes. 

Here at PLC and around the grounds, 
young naturalists are treated to stimulating 
hands-on activities that encourage them to 
explore and learn about the natural world 
during Saturday workshops, school fieldtrips, 
and summer day camps. Teachers as well have 
numerous educational opportunities, includ- 
ing Project Wild Workshops (a national 
wildlife-focused conservation program for K- 
12 educators sponsored through DGIF), 




Program presenter Robin Contts (standing) and Tom Adkins, VMN, prepare aspiring young 
naturalists for finding the first signs of spring. 



Project Learning Tree, Project Underground, 
and watershed science activities. 

Blandy is also the site of the annual train- 
ing for the Shenandoah Chapter of Virginia 
Master Naturalists. Supported by DGIF and 
other state organizations, master naturalists 
have 10 intense weeks of classroom and field 
training before engaging in volunteer conserva- 
tion and educational activities. 

Lectures/workshops for adults and tajiii- 
lies are held each season, usually in the Quarters 
librar\' but also include w;ilking programs on 
the grounds. Winter Birds, Big Trees, Backyard 
Nature, Vanishing Bees, the State of the 
Shenandoah River, Spring Flowering Trees, and 
Edible Landscaping are just some of the entic- 
ing topics. 

The outreach programs as well as a Spring 
Garden Fair (my favorite place for perennials), a 
Fall Arbor Fest, visitor tours, and several display 
gardens around the quarters are all supported 
by the Foimdation of the State Arboretum, a 
nonprofit membership organization working 
in coordination with UVA to help support and 
maintain the arboretum and its activities. Ded- 
icated friends from this organization have pro- 
vided countless hours and invaluable support 
to Blandy's public outreach efforts. 

Walk down Dogwood Lane along the old 
stone wall, view the towering trees, drive the 
wildlife loop, see the ginkgo's fall splendor, and 
walk under the arches of the Quarters. Blandy 
is taking our state to a more environmental!)' 
aware future. It is indeed a treasure. ?^ 




This budding naturalist studies sl^iallow lake habitat at Lake Georgette, home to many 
painted turtles. 



Marie and Miltin Ma]arov (www.nmjawi'.cotn) live 
in Winchester. Both are retired clinical psychologists, 
nature enthusiasts, and members of the Virginia 
Outdoor Writers Association. 



For More Information: 

Blandy Experimental Farm & State 
Arboretum: www.blandy.virginia.edu 

University of Virginia, Environnnental 
Sciences: www.evsc.virginia.edu/ 

Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail, Blandy 
Experimental Farm and State Arboretum 
Loop: 

www.dgifvirginia.gov/vbwt/site.asp7traiN 
2&loop=MFR&site=MFR06 

Virginia Master Naturalists: 
www.virginiamasternaturalist.org/ 



22 VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HuntFishVA.com 




by Glenda Booth 

fl mericans represent around five per- 
a cent of the worlds population but 
c generate 40 percent of the world's 
waste. That translates to 4.3 pounds per per- 
son per day, up from 2.7 pounds in 1960. 
Only about one-third of that waste is recycled 
or composted. 

Glance down at the pavement at your 
next stoplight. Chances are you'll see a mat of 
cigarette butts. Continue driving and you'll 
likely pass plastic bags flapping in the trees 
along highways. Meanwhile, botdes bob in 
rivers and shorelines are scarred by Styrofoam 
debris. 

Trash is not just an eyesore. It can be 
lethal to wildlife. 



nin 



Sadly, people will toss just about anything down a riverbank for disposal, including large 
appliances. Cigarette butts mar the landscape and cause problems for a number of species. 



WMm\] HIITT!! 



Cigarette butts top the list of items found 
during "Clean Virginia Waterways" cleanups. 
They are the most common beach trash, hav- 
ing traveled there from streets, streams, and 
rivers to the ocean. 

Executive Director of Clean Virginia 
Waterways Kathleen M. Register says that 
most cigarette filters are made of cellulose ac- 
etate, a plastic slow to degrade. Unfortunate- 
ly, that plastic has been found in the stomachs 
of birds, whales, and other marine animals 
that mistake cigarette butts for food. Fibers 
are thinner than thread, packed tightly, and 
look like cotton. The tips and filters of ciga- 
rette butts contain multiple toxins that can 
leach out and become a biohazard to organ- 
isms like the water flea at concentrations of 
more than 0.125 butts per liter, or about one 
butt per two gallons of water. The water flea, 
found in most freshwater lakes and streams 
and oceans, is a planktonic animal that occu- 
pies a critical position in aquatic ecosystems, 
says Register. 

Del. Joe Morrissey introduced a bill in 
the 201 1 General Assembly to create a fine of 
$100 per cigarette butt for littering. "It's one 
of many peoples' pet peeves," he asserts. "It is 
disgracefiil that somebody has the temerity to 
discard a single cigarette butt or an entire ash- 
tray of butts at an intersecdon just so they can 
keep their car clean, but at the same time 
completely disregards the environment." The 
bill failed. 



24 



VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HuntFishVA.com 



PlflSTIII!! 

Plastic endures. From yogurt cups to beverage 
bottles, plastic is everywhere, even on the 
world's tallest peak: Mount Everest. Many 
plastic products are designed for a single use 
and then to be disposed of. Though most plas- 
tic bottles are recyclable, 80 percent are 
thrown away. Officials with the National 
Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration say 
that plastic likely makes up a sizeable portion 
of the marine debris that exists today. 

Plastic pollution kills more than 1 00,000 
marine creatures each year, including seabirds, 
mammals, and turtles, researchers for the tele- 
vision program, 60 Minutes, found. As plastic 
photodegrades, pieces become smaller and 
smaller and, eventually, ingestible. 



w^^:,^ 






Steve Chaconas, who runs National Bass 
Guide Service, says, "I have rescued several os- 
preys that have become entangled in six-pack 
rings and were near starvation." 

Of the 1 00 billion plastic bags used each 
year in the U.S., a mere five percent are recy- 
cled. Bags get snagged in trees, fences, and 
bushes and they float on water. Plastic bags 
take hundreds of years to degrade. 

"The pollution from plastic bags in the 
streams and waterways is the fourth most 
prevalent form of pollution behind cigarettes, 
food wrappers, and plastic beverage bottles," 
Delegate Adam Ebbin said last year in intro- 
ducing his bill to put a nickel tax on single-use 
shopping bags. 

A plastic bag can suffocate or choke an 
animal. Turdes mistake plastic bags for jelly 
fish. Whales may think plastic bags are squid. 
A bag can block digestion and cause death. 
Necropsies have found plastic bag remnants in 
the stomachs of whales, dolphins, bottom fish, 
manatees, and birds. 

f\mm mimi 

Discarded or abandoned fishing line is partic- 
ularly lethal to birds. Twined around birds' 
feet, it cuts off circulation and when snared 
around legs, beaks, and wings, can prevent 
birds from flying or eating — even standing. 
Fishing line has been found entangling both 



young and adult osprcy, and be may be present 
in five to ten percent of all osprey nests on the 
bay and its tributaries, wrote Kathy Reshetiloff 
in the Bay Journal last year. 

Migratory game bird biologist Gary Con- 
stanzo, with the Department (DGIF), says he 
bands two to three thousand Canada geese 
each year and sees two or three geese with fish- 
ing line around their legs or feet. Though "the 
incidence is not that high, " his most common 
sighting of birds caught in fishing line is Cana- 
da geese and mallards and occasionally gulls 
and seabirds. 

DGIF fish biologist John Odenkirk sees 
piles of fishing re-spool lines left on river banks. 
"Some people don't care, " he acknowledges. 

Along some Virginia streams, "You can 
find a 'bird's nest' of monofilament line, " says 
one avid fisherman, "a gob big enough to 
choke an elephant. " And it is very slow to 
biodegrade. 

Fishing hooks get stuck in birds' legs and 
feet and endanger all of us. Biologists describe 
"ghost fishing," which means fishing without a 
fisherman. If a baited hook gets caught on a 
bank submerged, fish get trapped trying to eat 
the bait and are snagged there to die. 

And DGIF fish biologist Scott Smith has 
seen fish trapped in old gill nets. If the fish 
breaks free and survives, its tissue grows around 
the piece of net, "like barbed wire on a tree," he 
says. "Some fish get stuck in old nets and die. " 



"Plastics can now be found almost any- 
where in the world's oceans," explains Dr. 
Kirk J. Fiavens, who directs the Coastal Wa- 
tersheds Program at the Virginia Institute of 
Marine Science (VIMS). There are only a cou- 
ple of polymers that are considered fully 
biodegradable in the marine environment. 
Most are plastics like polyethylene and 
polypropylene which simply break down into 
smaller fragments. These smaller 'microplas- 
tics' can be ingested by zooplankton. Zoo- 
plankton are the base of the marine food web, 
and disruption of the zooplankton popula- 
tion can have serious implications for marine 
life." 

Animals mistake plastic debris for food 
and birds may think plastic pellets are fish 
eggs. The ingested debris can make the ani- 
mal's stomach seem full, or worse, cause death 
and reproductive failure. 

Most of us have viewed photographs of 
ducks, herons, gulls, fishes, turdes, and other 
animals ensnared in plastic six-pack rings. 




A smoky shrew that crawled into this bottle left on the ground died when it could not escape. 
Left, dumpsites like this along waterways have become, sadly, all too familiar. 

JULY 201 1 ♦ 25 




TRfl8H 

Hill} \mm 

If ears like plastic and rubbery 
. things, like coolers and duct tape, 
says Jaime Sajecki, DGIF's black bear 
project leader 

They will chew on anything with 
foam, like coolers, hot tub covers, and 
lawn mower seats. "When insulation 
breaks down, it gives off formic acid, 
the same smell that ant colonies give 
off. Bears think they're going to get 
into an ant colony, which they love," 
she explains. 

"Bears pass a lot of scat full of 
candy wrappers, plastic bags, and Sty- 
rofoam. It all passes through their sys- 
tem, but it may not harm them much," 
she observes. That's the good news. 

A real hazard is large containers. 
"Anything can get stuck over bears' 
heads," maintains Sajecki. "They stick 
their heads in everything to get what- 
ever's inside that smells good and their 
head can get trapped within." If not 
rescued, the bear can die of starvation. 
There have been several incidents of 
bears getting their heads stuck inside 
large plastic containers, but thankfully, 
none reported in Virginia to date. 



inmFii \mm mw mm 

On Virginia's Smith River, Odenkirk and 
Smith have saved many young brown trout en- 
circled by metal rings the size of a half-dollar. 
As the fish grows with the embedded ring, it 
can survive up to a year. The ring eventually 
cuts the fish or it dies fi^om an infection if the 
ring is not removed. Smith speculates that the 
rings come from large-mouthed beverage bot- 
tles. "We've rescued a lot," he notes. 

Discarded beverage containers are ubiq- 
uitous. In one 2009 cleanup, volunteers col- 
lected over 180,000 beverage containers in the 
Potomac River watershed. Those cans and bot- 
tles can become traps for very sm;ill animals 
that are attracted to food morsels inside. They 
get their heads caught in jars, cans, and plastic 
cups, especially containers that are thinner at 
the top and wider at the bottom. Small crea- 
tures like liziirds crawl inside for warmth or 
protection, but cannot get out. There, they suf- 
focate or starve. 

The Styrofoam or polystyrene used for 
coolers, cups, trays, and carryout food 
"clamshells'" are becoming very common in 
waterways, where they break up quickly into 
small pieces — some invisible to humans. Birds 
and odicr animals mistake the pieces for food. 
Ingested polystyrene, a suspected carcinogen, 
can cause fatal internal blockages in animals. 



Who hasn't seen a helium-filled balloon 
escape to the skies? Balloons, pieces of bal- 
loons, and their string come down some- 
where and get twined around birds' necks and 
beaks. In the ocean, ingested balloons mistak- 
en for jellyfish can block digestion and cause 
marine animals to starve to death or be suffo- 
cated. Rehabilitators at Baltimore's National 
Aquarium removed three square feet of mylar 
balloon from a stranded whale in 1 993. 

IT' (J PRHVIJIlTflDII! 

"The sad thing is all of these pollutants are to- 
tiilly avoidable. Whether from land or sea, 
trash is trash and should be disposed of prop- 
erly, ' advises Chaconas. 

Also key to eliminating trash in the envi- 
ronment is not producing it in the first place. 
Again, DGIF's Smith: "Anything discarded 
can be a trap or problem, and plastic is worse 
than other trash because it lasts a lot longer. If 
you go to the trouble to bring it in, go to the 

^ trouble to take it out with you and dispose of 

@ it correcdy." ?f 

Gknda C Booth, afreeLince writer, grew up in 
Soiithivest Virginia and has lived in Northern 
Virginia over 30 years, where she is active in 
conservation efforts. 





■^ 




r ■ 



Even something as innocuous as a broken 
teacup can be a problem for a wild animal. 



RESOURCES 

DGIF, Fishing Line Recycling Program 

www.dgif.virginia.gov/fishing/fishing-line- 

recycling 

Clean Virginia Waterways 
www.longwood.edu/cleanva/ 

Virginia Institute of Marine Science 

www.ccrm.vims.edu/marine_debris_ 

removal/index.html 



26 VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HuntFishVA.com 




',«. >vi 



Virginia's 

Family-friendly 
Fisheries 



Take a look at some 
creative combinations 

of outdoor options 
across this great state. 

byMorcN.McGlode 



There is no region in the Old 
Dominion that doesn't sport 
plenty of opportunities for 
families to fish together. From scenic tidal 
rivers in the flatlander areas to highland 
reservoirs of the western part of the state — 
and in between — family-hiendly fishing 
options abound. 

Fishing and camping, or fishing and 
canoeing, go hand-in-hand like crabs and 
Old Bay. Coupling various outdoors activ- 
ities together only reinforces just how 
lucky we are to Ciill Virginia home. Fami- 
lies who canoe the Shenandoah, Potomac, 
New, Rappaliannock, or Rapidan rivers 
while camping along the way know what a 
memorable experience this can be; add 
fishing to the mix, and you have the mak- 
ings of a truly wonderful trip. 

Many fisheries locations are con- 
ducive to families spending the day on the 
water or camping for a weekend. For those 
who own boats, there are plenty of avail- 
able ramps at these locations. But not 
everyone has a bass boat that screams like a 
scalded dog. For the family without a boat, 
several places offer on-site boat rentals, 
equipment rentals, camping facilities, pic- 
nic areas, grilling opportunities, and more. 
Public fishing spots with fishing piers or 
platforms make for a great get-away. Many 
Department-owned lakes offer accessible 



JULY 2011 ♦ 27 



Family-friendly 
Fishing Spots 

Tidewater and Eastern Virginia - Suf- 
folk Lakes, Blackwater River, Not- 
toway River, Chickahominy River, 
James River, Northwest River, North 
Landing River, Rappahannock River, 
Dragon Run, Mattaponi River, Pa- 
munkey River 

Northern and Central Virginia - Lake 
Chesdin, Lake Brittle, Chris Greene 
Reservoir, Burke Lake, Occoquan 
Reservoir, Lake Anna, Lake Orange, 
Hunting Run Reservoir, Motts Run 
Reservoir, Lunga Reservoir, James 
River, Rappahannock River, Appomat- 
tox River, Occoquan River. 
Southcentral Virginia - Holliday Lake, 
Smith Mountain Lake, Lake Gaston, 
Lake Conner, Philpott Reservoir, 
Buggs Island Lake, Lake Nottoway, 
Briery Creek Lake, Sandy River Reser- 
voir, James River (upper and middle). 
Northwest Virginia - Sherando Lakes, 
Lake Moomaw, Douthat Lake, Lake 
Frederick, Shenandoah River, James 
River (upper and middle). 
Southwest Virginia - Hungry Mother 
Lake, Rural Retreat Lake, Claytor Lake, 
Gatewood Reservoir, South Holston 
Reservoir, New River, Clinch River, 
Holston River. 

Fishing & Camping G&av 
to lalC6 Along 

Rods, reels, tackle box with basic es- 
sentials, lures, live bait, cooler, ice, 
water, sunscreen, first aid kit, bug and 
tick spray, tick removal tool, fish 
grilling basket, fillet knife, stringer, fish 
scaler, PFDs, canoe, kayak, John boat, 
anchor 

Tent and tent liners, sleeping bags, 
bed rolls, blankets, lanterns and bat- 
teries, lantern fuel and mantels, food, 
drinks, bottled water, cooler and ice, 
flashlights and batteries, hatchet and 
hammer, medicine or vitamins, dry 
supply bags, dish rags and dishwash- 
ing soap, firearms and ammunition (if 
permitted), knives, toilet paper, spare 
clothes, rake, rope, waterproof 
matches, cast-iron frying pan, trash 
bags, plastic cutlery, plates, cups, 
paper towels, portable stove or small 
charcoal grill. 



28 



V 




The author teaches son Justin the fine art of tying mantels. Kids feel more important when 
they are asked to lend a hand. 




piers for people to spread out and enjoy a day 
together. Often there will be brush or other 
sunken structures to help attract fish to the 
pier. Pack a cooler with some cold drinks and 
eats and settle back to fish ior a few hours. 
The logistics are easy atid not much equip- 
ment is necessary. 

Ac1i\/rti6S for th6 Entire Fannily 

Noted as the best managed in the country, 
many Virginia State Parks are strategically po- 
sitioned near a lake, reservoir, or river. Fresh- 
caught fish cooked over a campfire is a sure 
bet to insdll the call of nature to children and 
a great way for adults to reconnect as well. 
Here, "off the beaten path" fishing spots are 
made accessible by well maintained trails. 
Biking trails are also plentiful. Trails can be 
challenging and are usually very scenic. Con- 
sider packing a rod, reel, and small tackle box, 
and hit the path! Don't forget to bring binoc- 
ulars to glass the landscape with the family. 
This will likely result in many questions and 
answers — an opportunity to share knowl- 
edge. 

Imagine, if you haven't had the chance 
to experience it, the feeling of paddling a sce- 
nic waterway and fishing along the way. After 
a few morning hours of fishing and hopeftilly 
catching something, you beach the canoe on 
a sandy bank (not on private property) and 
disembark for a shore lunch. After relaxing 



for a bit, your group ventures back to the 
canoe and continues on, fishing and enjoying 
wildlife wonders along the way. After a few 
more hours, your location on the map tells 
you that you are approaching the camp site, 
where you set up camp and recap the day's ad- 
ventures. You might top off the evening by 
making a campfire and whitding a stick for 
making s'mores, while tiJking about the big 
one that got away. Experiences like this will 
stay with you forever. ?f 

Marc N. McGlade relishes the opportunity to fish, 
camp, boat, and pretty much do iinythiiig in the 
outdoors with hisfiimily. 



Additional Information for 
Fanriily-friendly Fisheries 

Visit the Department's website to learn 
more about locations in Virginia to fish, 
the available amenities, and fishing 
regulations at www.HuntFishVA.com. 
Take the family camping. To make 
camping reservations, call (877) 
444-6777orvisitwww.recreation.gov. 
To contact Virginia State Parks, visit 
www.dcrvirginia.gov/state_parks. 
To learn about park offerings and 
overnight accommodations, e-mail 
resvs(S)dcr.virginia.gov or call 
(800)933-PARK. 



AFIELD AND AFLOAT 




Outdoor 
Classics 



^ctk ^trttr 



Mountain Nature: A Seasonal Natural 
History of the Southern Appalachians 

by Jennifer Frick-Ruppert 

2010 The University of North Carolina Press 
Color photographs, tables, and maps 
$20 paper, $45 hardcover 
www.uncpress.unc.edu 

"Tins book is dijferent because itfoaises on cycles 
of nature, particularly the seasonal cycle. I chose 
cycles as a conceptual theme because they provide 
a temporal context, a time signature against 
which natural events can be yneasured and relat- 
ed. Cycles are deeply engrained, perhaps funda- 
mentally so, in the fabric of nature. " 

-Jennifer Frick-Ruppert 

Over countless ages, mother nature's little 
clocks have ticked within plant and animal 
alike, signaling the start of a new phase. Ms. 
Frick-Ruppert writes: "In the southern Ap- 
palachians, the seasons constitute the most 
conspicuous and important natural cycle. . . 
like us, Appalachian animals and plants also 
sense seasonal progression and prepare for 
changes in form and tempo. Unlike most of 
us, however, they are fully engaged in each 
season's performance, resonating with each 
note, and responding as gently as plucked 
strings." 

Seasonal cycles are inextricably woven 
into the fabric of our lives as human beings. 
We approach, and respond to, seasonal trans- 
formation scientifically and aesthetically; we 
respond with our hearts as well as our minds. 
We can study the chemical changes that cause 
the autumnal degradation of chlorophyll in 
the maple or sycamore, yet marvel at the re- 
sultant extravagant displays of fall foliage 
along the Blue Ridge Parkway. 

Through Mountain Nature, a seasonal 
field guide that reads more like a novel, the 
author invites readers to explore and engage 



with these cycles, and also with the vast eco- 
mosaic that is the southern Appalachians. 
The region's approximately 35 million acres 
stretch from north Georgia, through the Car- 
olinas, and into Northern Virginia. 

The book opens with a macro-view 
chapter on the general cycles of nature: bio- 
logical clocks, migration and hibernation, 
day length, tree rings, seasonal cycles of 
aquatic animals, and long-term geological cy- 
cles. Subsequent chapters follow the quarter- 
ly cycles of spring, summer, fall, and winter. 
They delve into interesting and wide-ranging 



subjects like: pollination, ephemeral wild- 
flowers, warbler diversity, honeybee swarm- 
ing, grouse threat display, fireflies, seed 
dispersal, Appalachian conifers, and rhodo- 
dendrons in their role as evergreen ther- 
mometers. 

Nature writing is at its best when the text 
is both scientific and lyrical, highlighting the 
cosmic music hidden within natural process- 
es — think Diane Ackerman or Barbara King- 
solver. This is a volume that can be read 
straight through, but it is perhaps best savored 
section by section as each season unfolds. 





Secretary of Natural Resources Douglas 
Domenech (L) and representatives of the 
Dept. of Defense and federal, state, and 
nonprofit conservation organizations who 
made the acquisition of the Mattaponi 
WMA possible, gather for its dedication. 
Members of the Chickahomlny tribe 
blessed the grounds during the ceremony 
held on May 5th. 



Update: 



Since publication of the feature about yel- 
low perch in the May 20 1 1 issue, the 2010 
Anglers of the Year list has been released. 

As stated in the June 20 1 1 issue, we 
now have a new yellow perch record: 3 
lbs., 16.5 in. — caught by George Mullins 
(of Haysi) in Flannagan Reservoir, 
3/8/2010. 

Congratulations Mr. Mullins! 



JULY 2011 ♦ 29 



Correction: 

The feature about the red knot in the April 
2011 issue inaccurately stated that red 
knots eat lemmings. Rather, red knot re- 
productive rates in their Arctic breeding 
grounds Huctuate with the productivity of 
lemmings. Thus, red knot productivit}' 
may be highest during years when lem- 
ming numbers are very high. In years 
when lemming numbers are low, foxes 
and other animals that eat lemmings may 
prey upon red knots, their eggs, and their 
young. 



We are pleased to sJiniv the 

iviuning essay in the VOWA2010 

Yon til Writing Competition, 

Collegiate Undergraduate 

Division. 

Recreation Leadership: 

Where Business Meets 
Adventure 

by Mallory Taylor 

My name is Mdlory Taylor and I was 
born and raised in Newsoms, Virginia, also 
known as the "Home of the Jumbo Peanut." I 
learned early in lile the importance ol agricul- 
ture, hunting, and working outdoors to have 
a productive, sustainable lifestyle in this small 
southeastern town. Being raised in an 1 800s 
farmhouse surrounded by fields, pecan trees, 
and long dirt roads rooted me in the simplici- 
ty ol nature. I never had a childhood ol tech- 
nology and gadgets, but instead I grew up 
making mud pies and finding arrowheads in 
the endless fields that 1 called my backyard. 
Some people would call my childhood de- 
prived but 1 enjoyed my time in nature and 
the solitude 1 found while away from the 
world around me. Growing up in a town 
where tiiere were more hum clubs than stop- 
lights led me to realize how dependent my 
small town life was on nature. Little did I 
know that these childhood memories woukl 
form and guide me to my future career. 

When it came time to apply for colleges, 
there was no second-guessing what 1 wanted 
to do for the rest of my life. 1 chose to attend 
I'errum College where I am currently a junior 



majoring in Recreation Leadership. Ferrum 
offered me countless opportunities to partic- 
ipate in outdoor activities and to study 
abroad. During my freshman year, I spent 
three weeks of my summer studying abroad 
in Costa Rica. I visited indigenous commu- 
nities and helped to rebuild and reestablish 
ecotourism in Costa Rica. For my 20th 
birthday, I received a rafting trip on the 
Gauley River in West Virginia from my par- 
ents. There was no better gift for me. I was 
able to witness first-hand the excitement and 
adventure of rafting Class V rapids, while 
seeing how beautiftil "Wet and Wild West 
Virginia" was. I loved the adventures that I 
was able to partake in and I realized that I was 
being drawn into the recreation and leisure 
field more and more each day. My love and 
passion for adventure, nature, excitement, 
solitude, action, risk, and simplicity played a 
major role in my decision of a career goal. 

Over the past few years when I have 
been studying at Ferrum I have found myself 
more embedded in nature, and seeking to go 
back to my roots. The Appalachian Trail 
served as my "home away from home" for 
most of my college years. It acted as a source 
of solitude for me during exams, stress, and 
just random weekend trips. I enjoyed every 
minute I spent on the trail taking in nature 
and clearing my mind. Finding out more 
about myself and being able to release stress 
in a place that I felt so comfortable was such a 
blessing for me. I felt achieved and rehixed 
after hiking for hours in nature. I took multi- 
ple trips to MacAfee's Knob and every hike 
was different from the next. I invited friends 
to experience the thrill and solitude that I 
was so passionate about. In passing, I met 
many people from all over the world and var- 
ious walks of life while 1 hiked and realized 
that we each may have had different motives 
but we all loved and careci for nature all the 
same. It was always a new adventtire and 1 be- 
came more and more drawn into nature as 
the years continued to go by. 

My simple childhood, love of the out- 
doors, and passion for nature all have one 
major detail in common. They each shaped 
my life and made me who 1 am toda\'. F.ach 
nature experience I was a part of took me 
back to the childhood that 1 loved so uiuch. 
It took me back to simple times where there 
was no "hustle and bustle", technology diiln'r 
run everyone's life, and where 1 lelt at home 
again. Adventuring to new destinations and 



getting involved in various outdoor activities 
reminded me of the passion and simple pleas- 
ures I enjoyed at a younger age. These experi- 
ences now have transferred from hobbies and 
fun times to a career. 

Deciding to go into a career in the recre- 
ation field was not an easy choice to make. 
Today's society does not completely under- 
stand the concept of choosing a job that you 
love over a job that will result in a large pay- 
check. Regardless, I chose that I wanted to be 
happy. I know that I enjoyed my childhood 
and I love nature, I couldn't have asked for a 
better career field. I hope that making the de- 
cision to choose what I loved over money will 
pay off. But either way, I know that I will still 
be happy with working in the best office I 
could ever ask for, the outdoors. 

IMAGF OF THE MONTH 




Congratulations go to Teresa Danforth of 
Williamsburg for her lovely photograph of a 
lotus blooming at the Norfolk Botanical Garden 
in August of 2009. Teresa shot this image with 
an Olympus C700UZ digital point-and-shoot 
camera using ISO 100, l/400th. f/7.0. Beautiful! 



You are invited to submit one to five of your 
best photographs to "Image of the Month," 
Virginia Wildlife Magazine, P.O. Box 11104, 
4010 West Broad Street, Richmond, VA 
23230-1104. Send original slides, super high- 
quality prints, or high-res jpeg, tiff, or raw 
files on a disk and include a self-addressed, 
stamped envelope or other shipping method 
for return. Also, please include any pertinent 
information regarding how and where you 
captured the image and what camera and set- 
tings you used, along with your phone num- 
ber. We look forward to seeing and sharing 
your work with our readers. 



30 



VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HuntFishVA.com 



J. 




by Curtis J, Badger 

^i"— 7 ope, the high-mileage whimbrel, 
^r t^ is still flying the friendly skies. In 
Virginia Wildlife last August we reported that 
Hope had recently returned to a salt marsh in 
Northampton County where she had been 
fitted with a satellite transmitter a year earlier. 
During that year, Hope had flown from Vir- 
ginia to nesting grounds in the Northwest 
Territories, fi-om there to Hudson Bay, and 
then to a winter home in St. Croix in the Vir- 
gin Islands. By the time she returned to her 
part-time residence in Northampton she had 
covered more than 14,000 miles, an incredi- 
ble feat for a bird that weighs a few hundred 
grams. 

And Hope flies on. For the third year in a 
row she has returned to the same seaside creek 
on the Eastern Shore, with the solar-powered 
transmitter still intact. On Friday, April 8, she 
made landfall at a marsh called Box Tree fol- 
lowing a 75-hour flight over the open Atlantic 
from St. Croix — a journey of 1,850 miles. 
Scientists tracking her say she has racked up 
more than 21,000 miles since being fitted 
with the transmitter on May 1 9, 2009. 

Hope's journey has amazed even biolo- 
gists who have been studying bird migration 
for decades. It has long been known that 
shorebirds such as whimbrels travel long dis- 
tances when moving between winter homes 
in the tropics and nesting grounds in the 
north. But scientists had assumed that there 
were two separate populations of whim- 
brels — one on the East Coast and one on the 
West — and that the East Coast whimbrels 
moved north to the eastern part of North 
America to breed. 

Hope shot that theory to shreds last May 
when she left Virginia and headed not to the 
north but, rather, to the northwest, to breed- 
ing grounds along the MacKenzie River near 
Alaska. "We knew that whimbrels flew long 
distances, but we had no idea they went west 
to the Northwest Territories," says Fletcher 




Smith, a research biologist with the Center 
for Conservation Biology at the College of 
William and Mary. "No scientist would have 
even guessed that the East Coast harbored a 
percentage of the population of the western 
breeding whimbrels. That was a scientific 
breakthrough." 

Scientific breakthroughs often follow in 
the wake of advances in technology, and such 
was the case with Hope. The bird was fitted 
with a solar-powered transmitter weighing 
only 9.5 grams, and it broadcast a signal to or- 
biting satellites on a cycle of 5 hours on, 24 
hours offl The unit recharges during the off 
cycle. During the five hours on, if satellites are 
in the correct position, the signal is triangulat- 
ed and the position is picked up by the receiv- 
er on the ground. 

Hope's journey also demonstrates how 
conservation issues transcend political 



boundaries. Hope's travels took her across the 
United States and into Canada, over the At- 
lantic and to the Virgin Islands. Since whim- 
brel surveys began on the Virginia coast in the 
mid-1990s, the birds have declined in popu- 
lation by 50 percent, says Smith. WTiimbrels 
feed primarily on fiddler crabs, which they 
snatch from burrows with their down-curved 
beak. As the fiddlers go, so go the whimbrels. 
Fortunately, fiddler crab habitat is largely pro- 
tected on the Virginia coast through state, 
federal, and private conservation ownership. 
Still, the whimbrel population is dropping at 
a rate of three percent per year, perhaps illus- 
trating. Smith says, problems on the winter or 
breeding grounds. 

Curtis Badger, whose most recent book is A Natural 
Histoni of Quiet Waters (UVA Press), has written 
widely about natural history and wildlife art. He 
lives on Virginia's Eastern Shore. 



JULY 201 1 



31 




Photo Tips 

by Lynda Richardson 



Photographing Birds in FUght: The Basics 




Blue skies make great backgrounds, as seen 
in this image of a bald eagle. Staying focused 
on the eyes made it easier to capture a sharp 
image. Canon EOS SOD digital SLR camera, 
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.0-5.6 L IS USM IS 
lens, ISO 250, l/1000th,f/6,3. 
© 2011 Lynda Richardson 



Images of birds in flight can be breathtak- 
ing but those images are some of the hard- 
est to capture. In this column, I will provide 
you with tips that have helped me photo- 
graph birds in action. 

First, you need a long telephoto lens in 
the 300 to 400mm range. Team this up with a 
small sensor, digital SLR camera and you've 
got the perfect setup. The Crop Factor of a 
small sensor, digital SLR gives the lens a 
longer mm range. For example, a 300mm 
lens on a Canon 50D is actually a 480mm 
lens. Cool! 

What exposure settings should you use? 
After deciding on ISO, first select 1 /500th as 
the shutter speed. (1/lOOOth is better if you 
can get it!) Then, depending on the light 
available, see if you can use an aperture of 
f/8.0 or as close as possible for a good depth- 
of-field. (F/8.0 is the sharpest aperture on 
most lenses, too.) Obviously, this means 
shooting manually because you want full con- 
trol over your settings. You could use Shutter 
Priority but just know that the camera will 
change the aperture setting, depending on 
whether the subject is against blue sky or a 
dark tree line. 

Always use the viewfinder to focus on 
\'our subject. The LCD live view wont allow 
you to see it the image is properly focused. 
When deciding exactly where to focus, always 
go lor the eyes or at least the head using the 
center-weighted focusing sensor. Your sub- 
ject's head will be centered in the frame, but 
you can recompose during the editing 
process. The center sensor is the quickest fo- 
cusing sensor, making it easier to get sharper 
images. 

Make sure that your camera is set on 
Continuous or Continuous High Drive so 
you can shoot a lot of images at a time. Avt)id 
using the BURST setting, as this can throw 
your focus off. 



The AL SERVO AF feature will let you 
lock focus on your subject while pressing the 
shutter button halfway down. Once you feel 
you've got the focus, push down all the way 
and keep the shutter firing as you pan with 
your subject. Shooting high J PEGS instead of 
RAW will also allow the camera to record im- 
ages faster, though I prefer shooting RAW for 
best image quality. 

Hand-holding your camera gives you the 
greatest flexibility in bird photography. And 
because you are already shooting at high shut- 
ter speeds, you can increase your chances for 
sharp focus by turning OFF Vibration Reduc- 
tion/Image Stabilization, as it can slow down 
the auto focus. Just make sure you are holding 
your camera securely while properly standing 
for the greatest stability. 

Capturing a dramatic, tack sharp image 
of a bird in flight will take practice and loads of 
patience, but when you get that fabulous shot 
won't it be worth it? Good Luck and Happy 
Shooting! 



Lynda Richardson 
Photography Workshops 

All classes held at Lewis Ginter Botanical 
Garden. Go to www.lew/isgi nter.org to 
register and look under Adult & Family 
Education or call (804) 262-9887 X322 
(M-F, 9a.m.-5p.m.). 

A Composition Short Course on July 7, 9, 
and 12. Learn to compose a great photo- 
graphic image! 

An Exposure Short Course on August 4, 
6, and 9. Gain a better understanding of 
proper exposures and the use of 
histograms in digital photography. 

Introduction to Flash Photography on 
Sept 8, 10, 15, 17, and 20. Learn to use 
this intimidating tool! 



32 VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HuntFishVA.conn 




n the Water 



by Tom Guess 



It s All About Choices 



Everything we do involves some 
amount of risk, and the decisions we 
make help determine the associated out- 
comes. The same holds true for boating but 
with a more dynamic environment thrown 
in. There are two ways to approach boating 
safety: A person can choose to mitigate the 
risks associated with boating or they can 
contribute to the risks associated with boat- 
ing. Let me share some examples: 

Mitigate Risk: After a great boating sea- 
son you winterize your boat by following the 
engine manufacturers instructions, stow all 
of your survival gear in a dry protected area, 
and cover it up for the winter. The next sea- 
son you follow the de-winterization steps, in- 
spect all of your safety equipment, and 
replace anything that is damaged or expired. 

Contribute to Risk: After a great boat- 
ing season you park your boat out in the back 
yard, leave all of your safety equipment on 
board, leave the gas in the tank, and let the 
boat fill all winter with debris, rain, snow, and 
ice. In the spring you clean out the boat, top 
it off with fresh gas, and go! 

Mitigate Risk: You take a boating safety 
course approved by the National Association 
of Boating Law Administrators because you 
believe that you are never too old to learn. 
You know that by taking a NASBLA-ap- 
proved course, you will be complying with 
Virginia law and you will be over 70 percent 
less likely to be involved in a boating acci- 
dent. 

Contribute to Risk: You think taking a 
boating safety course is a waste of your time 
because you have been boating your entire 
life. There is no point in learning anything 
new. 

Mitigate Risk: When you get under- 
way, you have everyone on board your boat 
wear a properly fitting U.S. Coast Guard-ap- 
proved life jacket. You know that many new 




styles ol life jackets are comfortable and light- 
weight. You also know that you are over four 
times more likely to drown without a life 
jacket if you accidentally find yourself in the 
water, even if you are a good swimmer. 

Contribute to Risk: You think life jack- 
ets are too bulky, they are a hassle, and you 
can swim anyway. . . so what is the point? 

Mitigate Risk: You don't drink alco- 
holic beverages while operating your boat be- 
cause you know that it slows down your 
reaction time. You know that, due to dehy- 
dration and the associated stressors ot operat- 
ing a boat, one standard alcoholic drink can 
have the effect of three standard drinks con- 
sumed on land. You also know that operat- 
ing under the influence of alcohol, drugs, 
and some prescription drugs is illegal. 

Contribute to Risk: You think drinking 
alcoholic beverages is part ot boating and 



that boating without consuming them is no 
fun. Besides, it helps you to be a better boat 
operator. 

Mitigate Risk: When you operate your 
boat at night you reduce your speed, know 
your area, lower the brightness on all of your 
electronics to a bare minimum, and have 
your passengers act as lookouts for you. 

Contribute to Risk: When operating at 
night you drive too fast for the prevailing 
conditions, don't use lookouts, and rely sole- 
ly upon your chart plotter to navigate. 

Remember, boating is all about enjoy- 
ment, relaxation, and recreation, so help 
mitigate the associated risks and don't con- 
tribute to them! Until next time: Be Responsi- 
ble, Be Safe, und Have Fun! 

Tom Guess, U.S. Coast Guard (Ret), serves as the 
state boating Liw admiuistiator at the DGIF. 



JULY 201 1 



33 



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by Ken and Mono Perrotte 



Virginias State Saltwater Fish Two Ways 



Striped bass, or "rockfish" as they're commonly known in 
the saltwater environs of the mid-Atlantic, have long been 
savored dining staples of people living near the Chesapeake Bay. 
The beauty of rockfish is that the meat is so mild and versatile 
that it lends itself to a wide variety of recipes, from the most 
simple batter and fr\' technique to more intricate preparations. 
We grill, fry, and roast them whole. But two of our favorite 
recipes involve light sauteing and poaching in a stovetop skillet. 

For these recipes, you want nice fillets, at least '/2-inch to 
1 -inch thick. Be sure to trim away the dark red "blood line" 
meat that runs along the center of the fillet on the skin side. It 
has a taste that many find impalatable and it certainly detracts 
from the ingredients in these recipes. And, of course, ensure 
you've removed all bones. 




Rockfish Kenny-style 

Tliis recipe is one our 1 1 -year-old grandson likes to cook. He 
calls it his "sign.iture dish. " Maria added fresh, sweet peppers to 
it this year and the results were remarkably delicious. 

V2 to Vi pound rocldish fillers 

1 tablespoon chopped mushrooms 

1 tablespoon chopped onion 

1 tablespoon chopped sweet yellow pepper 

1 tablespoon chopped sweet orange pepper 

1 Roma tomato, peeled and seedetl 

Pinch of thyme and parsley, or Herbs de Provence 

Va teaspoon black pepper 

V2 cup dry white wine 

1 tablespoon butter, softened 



1 tablespoon flour 

'/4 cup cream 

1 teaspoon lemon juice 

Place mushrooms, onions, and peppers in the bottom of a pan. 
Top with fish, seasonings, and tomato. Add wine and poach over 
medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, depending on fillet thickness, 
or until fillets are cooked. A sharp knife should easily and cleanly 
penetrate the fish. Remove fish and keep warm, keeping the 
wine and most of the vegetables in the pan. Mix butter and flour 
and whisk into pan. Stir in cream and lemon juice and bring to a 
soft boil. Remove from heat and pour over fish to serve. 
Serves 1 or 2. 

Note: If you really want to ratchet up the elegance, gilding the 
lily, acid steamed crawfish tails, medium shrimp, or crabmeat to 
the sauce after removing the fish. Just be careful you don't spice 
up these ingredients or they'll conflict with the other herbs and 
vegetables. The mild, straightforward taste of the shrimp, craw- 
fish, or crab is all you need. 

Rockfish Riviera 

V2 to -/i pound rockfish fillets 

1 tablespoon butter 

V4 teaspoon lemon pepper 

V4 teaspoon Old Bay or crab boil seasonings 

I tablespoon flour 

1 tablespoon dry white wine 

1 teaspoon lemon juice 

Lemon wedges (optional) 

Season with lemon pepper and Old Bay and lightly dust with 
flour. Tlie flour should barely cover the fish, not coat it com- 
pletely. Melt butter in pan over medium heat. When bubbling 
subsides, add fish and cook for about 3 minutes or until golden 
brown. Turn and cook for another minute. Add wine and lemon 
juice and cover. Reduce heat and cook for another several min- 
utes, depending on fillet thickness, until done — when the meat 
flakes and a sharp knife easily and cleanly penetrates the fish. 
Serve with pan liquids drizzled over the fish. Garnish with lemon 
wedges if desired. Serves 1 or 2. 

Sides and Wine Pairing 

Boih dishes cio well with simple sides like steamed asparagus, 
fresh mixed greens, and rice. For wine, your favorite white wine 
is recommended. We like a crisp, well-chilled New Zealand 
sauvignon blanc, or a pinot grigio. A nice Virginia vidal blanc 
also can be a good match. 



34 



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